Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A protest ...

... just like the good old days.

The Florida legislature is at it again. Denying boaters shore access in an effort to drive us off apparently isn't aggressive enough, so they are back to reviewing anchoring restrictions. They are having a “public” meeting tomorrow: during the hurricane season, during the Annapolis Boat Show, with most of the people who will bear the brunt of their actions a thousand miles away. If one was of a cynical mind one might think the timing was deliberate.

Since I hate to go down without at least the token of a fight, and since we are among those who will be affected who are also a thousand miles away, the least I could do was send them an email. No good is likely to come of it. If history is any guide people who are used to abusing their power never change their minds, and never give that power up voluntarily. Sooner or later someone has to come along who has the will and the means to remove them from power.

It would be preferable if the good people who live in Florida would do that through elections. It is, after all, their jobs and paychecks that will take the real hit.  Unfortunately that would require the US be an actual, functioning democracy. A claim that is open to debate. In any case, all such power shifts start with protests and trouble makers and then lead wherever they lead. So I thought I'd add my two cents worth, just to keep my "trouble maker" card valid. Here is the email I sent to

Dear Sir,

I understand that the State of Florida is, once again, considering trying to restrict the use of Florida waters to citizens at the insistence of the few. It is already well known that one local marine police force has been bribed to harass boaters at the behest of a single home owner. This, all of its own, is an outrage that the politicians in Florida are ignoring.

I would attend the meeting being held on October 8 to voice my disgust personally, but my Florida registered boat (which is also my home) is currently in the southern Chesapeake Bay. Our insurance is invalid if we are in Florida and a named storm damages the boat during the hurricane season. In addition, we have discovered that places like Annapolis, MD are very welcoming to the cruising, boating, and live-aboard community. They enjoy having us as guests. We enjoy spending our money with them.

In spite of the attempted betrayal on the part of Florida's compromised political system, we are looking forward to returning to the southern Florida area, particularly Biscayne Bay, in the next few weeks. It has been our experience that the people of Florida do not share the anti-boating views that their political leaders are being bribed to pursue. Indeed, whenever we share the story of the state's underhanded attempts to serve those who are buying their influence, rather than the public good, people are pretty sympathetic to our dissatisfaction. A good bit of Florida's service industry is supported by boating, cruising, and those who live aboard. Those whose jobs depend on providing that service know who supports their paychecks. And they know it isn't those serving in the State House.

The tide may be turning. Politicians who harm the many at the insistence of the few may soon find that they really are on the wrong side of history. That is never a good place to be. It is my hope that there are enough true public servants in the Florida legislature to turn back this squalid attempt to kneel before the rich once and for all.

Tim Akey
s/v Kintala

Ed Note: You can follow the Florida anchoring debate on Wally Moran's website. He is actively involved in the fight to defend anchoring rights in Florida. You can also send an email to the email address in the body of this post if you are concerned about your anchoring rights in Florida.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Things not mentioned

One of the few moments the rain slowed down enough for me to risk my
non-waterproof camera to sneak a picture.

Sunday was one of those days that never show up in the Cruiser magazines. Though Joaquin turned far out to sea another storm system battered the area with “1,000 year” rains. We spent the day kind of grimly holding on as Kintala shook, pitched, and groaned her way through a day of lashing rain and wind guests in the high 30s. At high tide the road into the marina was under water while waves washed over the higher of the fixed docks. The low fixed docks were under by several feet and the walkways to the floating docks did weird things, bouncing like diving boards and sticking up into the air. Getting off the boat was a chore, but we had to when the rising tide pulled the power cord completely taut. A few minutes later the flood waters shorted out all shore power in the area anyway.

The fuel cans were stored off of the boat for the storm. It took another jump to the dock to retrieve one so the Honda generator could get a tank full and be brought into play to keep the batteries charged. Even if the dark clouds and rain weren't rendering the sun inoperative, the solar array had been removed and stored below. By Sunday night yours truly was well and truly tired of the wind, rain, waves, and ride. Hurricane or no, the idea of having run off to hide in a hotel room was feeling like the option we should have taken.

Come Monday morning the boat was still dancing, but just a little. No rain fell. There were even a few shadows in the salon, something not seen for many a day. The air was dry and cool and a look at the NOAA sight showed Joaquin well to the east of and moving further and further away.

A short aside here; though NOAA was seriously worried about Joaquin making landfall in the US, European models always had the storm turning east. Still being a pilot at heart and having had a life-long relationship with weather and weather forecasts, I was curious as to why the difference. From what I can learn, NOAA's funding for climate research and forecasting is being reduced, leaving them working with outdated models and limited computer capabilities. Something that, frankly, sounds like lunacy. Nothing is more expensive in lives and property damage than being unprepared for large scale weather events. But America isn't even keeping up with the rest of the world when it comes to forecasting and research, let alone being on the leading edge. Lunacy indeed. Anyway...

What a difference today

A hurricane scare is much better than a hurricane hit. Come early Monday afternoon we started turning Kintala back into a sailboat. With the boom back up in the air, the anchor, dink motor, and solar panels remounted in their normal positions, and the bimini and dodger back up, boat life is slowly returning to something nearer to normal. Today the main sail was bent back on, halyards run to their normal places, and the cockpit is, once again, a cockpit. In the next day or so we will start repairs on the head sails. (We noticed some stitching and a few tears in the sunbrella when taking them down.) While Deb is running the Sailrite machine I may try to track down and fix some of the worst leaks that made themselves apparent over the last few days.

This is work that just has to be addressed. Putting damaged sails back up when heading out for a 2000 mile season is pretty poor seamanship, sure to lead to even more damage later. This has been a good place to ride out the storms, and we have friends here who are also working hard at getting back underway, so hanging around for a few more days to do things right isn't a bad thing at all. Still, the weather for the next week and more looks to be perfect for getting a move on. So, good place or not, it will chafe a bit, pinned here getting things done that need to be done, while the sun is shining and the winds blowing gently on a good point of sail.

That isn't in the cruising magazines either.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Head and heart

Kintala is tied with a total of 10 lines strung to pilings. All the canvas is down. Everything is stored, stowed, and secured. Compared to the beating friends took in the Bahamas, we are sitting pretty and safe. We are. But it doesn't feel that way.

The boat is bouncing and rolling, tugging on her port side lines as the wind blows a constant 30+. On an outside dock, there are waves nearing three feet washing past the hull. She is making noises unfamiliar since we have never been on her when she was rigged for a storm. For those who have never lived on a boat, unfamiliar noises are not passed off easily. They vie for attention and understanding. When a new one pops up everything gets put aside to puzzle out what has happened, even sleeping. A sailor will sleep blissfully as the rigging sings in a 20 knot blow, but let something thump against the hull or slap on the deck, and that same sailor will be up and moving before being fully awake. Just now we heard a sizable “thunk” for the third time and have yet to figure out what is making the noise. Sounds minor, but it grinds at the back of the mind. Sleep will be shallow and bothered this night.

We took some time off of the boat this afternoon, going into town with the crew of Rover for lunch and a movie. (The Martian: good flick.) It was a needed break. Kintala is never happy when the winds blow and she is tied to piers. She has been so confined for several days now and there is at least two more to go before the forecasts have this storm finally moving away. The folks who live around here, whose houses don't float, will be glad when it does. Flooding is a concern with the ground totally saturated. When we drove out of the marina today we had to go the back way as the main road was flooded even though the tide had yet to reach high. Lunch and a movie was enough time to have the tide peak and start to recede. Had we returned after just a lunch there would have been no path back into the parking lot.

This is a part of cruising that is hard to explain. The head says all is well, that we are perfectly safe in this place in this weather. But the fact is we humans don't really look at the world with the head, we see it though the heart. What we know, and what we are experiencing, are often in open conflict. When that happens we go with the heart. I know we are safe, but I want to feel safe as well.

I will be glad when this storm is over; when Kintala is back together and ready to sail.

We cannot be on our way soon enough.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Stood up

Friday 8am track

Kintala is as prepared for a hurricane hit as we know how to make her. All the canvas is down and the aft end of the boom is lashed to the deck. The solar panels are stored below with all of the associated external wiring taped to the bimini frame. That frame has lines run to various cleats to support it. The dink, dink motor, and anchor are all stowed in the cockpit, and a hundred additional tasks were done as well. It was two days worth of intensive work, most of it while wearing full foulies in deference to the constant rain. This is what one does when invited to a dance with a hurricane named Joaquin. But, as of this morning, it appears that Joaquin has had a change of heart and is going to dance across the Atlantic after giving the Bahamas a thorough bashing.

There is nothing quite as good as being stood up by a hurricane.

Which is not to say that we are sitting in the sunshine. The forecasts for the next three and one half days include heavy, heavy rains with wind gusts to 40 knots. The weather here is still deteriorating rather badly. At any other time such a forecast would suck serious lemons. But compared to what it could have been? I may go sit by the pool (in my foulies) and drink a cold one (even though steaming hot coffee would be more appropriate) just to celebrate our apparent reprieve. Of course doing that would mean actually getting off the boat, and I'm not sure we will be doing that for a couple of days at least. The wind is pushing us hard away from dock and the lines are set to make sure the hull can't reach the hard stuff even if the winds shift. Which means we can't reach the hard stuff either. Still, I would rather be boat-bound than leaving the boat behind while scurrying for cover at a hotel far inland.

Likely, it will take three days or more to have ye 'ol Tartan ready to move again. Of course trusting a hurricane is not what smart people do. Kintala will sit, just as she is, for a few days yet. Once the momentum of more than one hundred billion pounds of hurricane is fully committed to a direction that doesn't point toward Severn Creek, then we will think about making like a sailboat again. It would be extra nice if the rains finally moved off before that task begins. Working in the rain is one of those things one does when one needs, not something one does when one wants.

Pulling down the headsails exposed some wear so it will likely take an extra day or two to tend to some restitching. That, and the fact that I will not be pushing as hard putting things back together, hopefully in the sunshine, as I did while taking things apart in the rain...yeah, a week at least before being happy gypsies once again. More likely two.

But we will be happy gypsies once again. Something that wasn't as likely just 24 hours ago.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Our nekked girl

I hardly even recognized her as I strode down the dock late this afternoon. I'll be very glad when we have her back to herself again. Just hoping that there's some Bahamas left to go to...

The very full aft cabin.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Who ordered this?

Kintala is hundreds of miles north of the hurricane zone. On Sunday morning it looks like Joaquin is going to deliver a direct, category 2, hit anyway. We had decided to wait out the weather anchored here in Severn Creek but a look at this morning's GRIB files had us making differnet decisions. First a check with our insurance guru to make sure we were all on the same coverage page. Then we talked to the folks at Severn Creek Marina who, a) told us that they survived Isabel with no boats damaged, and b) let us know that piers were available on a first come, first serve basis. After a bit of a debate we moved onto a dock.

The rest of the day was spent stripping all the sails and tying the boat with every heavy line we could find on board. It was good timing as the main went below just as the first rain shower arrived. Flaking and storing soggy sails is as unpleasant a task as it sounds. The dink was hoisted aboard, deflated, packaged and stowed in the cockpit. Gas cans where carried ashore and stored off the boat. The heavy rain and lighting arrived on the walk back. There are thunderstorms all around us tonight, none of it Joaquin's fault, but a preview of things to come.

Tomorrow the rest of the canvas will come down, the boom will get lashed to the deck, and the solar array will get stored below. It is likely to be a wet and dreary day. Thru-hulls will get closed, the batteries will get a full charge, and the boat will get unplugged. A hundred other little tasks will be done to make our old Tartan both as small and as tough a target as possible.

Friday morning Deb and I will join another crew from the marina and run inland like scared little bunnies, riding out the storm in a hotel somewhere far inland. There are those who chose to ride out such weather on their boat. I am not one of them. Once the prep is done and the storm arrives there is little one can do to change the outcome. The boat will survive, or it will not. If it doesn't being on board accomplishes nothing but putting one's self at risk. Everything we own is on Kintala. Everything we cherish from the boat will be riding in the car. Because a boat is only a boat.

The plan at the moment is to return Monday to see what we see, but that will depend on how much damage is done. Cat II is serious stuff, roads get closed, National Guard Units get put in the streets, access gets limited. It may take a while to learn what the future holds for our cruising life, but it seems unlikely Kintala will come through unscathed. Right now we are floating nearly 5 feet below the deck on the piers. By Sunday morning the marina expects those piers to be under water. I am not exactly sure how one secures a boat for that kind of thing, but we will do our best.

This is our first storm prep, and the first time we have had a few days warning about weather that might deliver a serious hurt. Up until now such events have blown up right on top of us with, at best, a few hours warning. But the worst was just about 60 knots worth of wind. Right now they are talking winds of 110 mph.

All this is a bit of a downer. This thing is going to miss Florida, the place our insurance company says we are not allowed to be. Then again we are not in Annapolis, anchored in Back Creek jammed cheek to jowl with people looking forward to the Boat Show. We have friends up there.  The good news is that they are 100 miles north of where we are and so might take a glancing blow, not a full on assault. We are hoping for the best...

...for them and for us.